"It looks very definite that the bad guy is progestin, not estrogen," Nachtigall said. Her advice is to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time. If more women took estrogen, she said, there would be a dent made in the epidemic of osteoporosis. "Millions of women who never went on estrogen, even for a few years, are really losing bone," she said.
That said, estrogen does increase the risk of blood clots. "Women with blood-clotting disorders should not take it," Nachtigall said.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "If you are looking to reduce menopausal symptoms and don't have an intact uterus, [estrogen] is an option." But estrogen-only therapy should not be prescribed indiscriminately, she added.
"This applies only to women who have severe menopausal symptoms. We are not saying that we should give women estrogen to reduce the risk of breast cancer," Bernik added.
Learn more about the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy through the North American Menopause Society.
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